THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES ig5
all the High Priests of Egypt, as well as certain superior members of the priesthood. Their knowledge was guarded with the utmost secrecy and kept so exclusive that Egypt's name became synonymous in classical times with mystery.
In the Egyptian galleries of the Museum of the Louvre at Paris, there is a tomb of Ptah-Mer, High Priest of Memphis, which bears an inscription, as epitaph, containing the following words: "He penetrated in the Mysteries of every sanctuary; nothing was hidden from him. He covered with a veil everything which he had seen" The hierophants were compelled to maintain this extraordinary reserve for reasons of their own, yet the necessity of excluding the sceptic and the scoffer from experiments fraught with so much danger to the candidate's life is obvious, while the inadvisability of casting pearls before swine is equally obvious. However, it was more than likely that most men were not sufficiently ready or prepared to enter into such an experience, which might easily bring them madness or death, and so it was made the privilege of a few. Many knocked at the doors of the Mystery Temples in vain, while others who applied were put through a graduated series of tests which broke their nerve or diminished their desire for initiation. Thus by a process of elimination—and exclusive selection—the Mysteries became the most exclusive institution of antique times, and the secrets revealed behind their well-guarded doors were always imparted under solemn oath that they would never be divulged. Every man who emerged through those doors belonged ever after to a secret s6ciety which moved and worked with higher purpose and profounder knowledge among the profane masses. "It is said that those who have participated in the Mysteries become more spiritual, more just and better in every way," wrote Diodorus, a visitor from Sicily.
Nor were these initiations limited to Egypt, The ancient civilizations inherited these Mysteries from a remote antiquity and they constituted part of a primitive revelation from the gods to the human race. Almost every people of pre-Christian times possessed its institution and tradition of the Mysteries. The Romans, the Celts, the Druids of Britain, the Greeks, the Cretans, the Syrians, the Hindus, the Persians, the Mayas and the American Indians, among others, had corresponding temples and rites with a system of graduated illuminations for the initiates. Aristotle did not hesitate to declare that he considered the welfare of Greece secured by the Eleusinian Mysteries.